Lost in London

A look at London and life in general through the eyes of someone who sometimes can't bear to watch.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thank you for the music

An iconic music show is put to sleep and a whole generation bemoans the loss of a programme they've not watched for years.

And so Top of the Pops has been consigned to the great televisual dustbin, joining Grandstand and They Think It's All Over as recent TV schedule evictees.

Much like the relatively recent axings of Just Seventeen, The Face and Smash Hits, there's been an outpouring of grief and nostalgia for the stricken show, mostly from people who haven't watched it since becoming sexually active.

TOTP, as it has become affectionately known, has been wearing the brave face of a terminally ill patient for many years now. Many attribute its demise to schedule shifts, change in chief, the death of the chart and- oh- there are too many reasons to mention. The real reason is: nobody wants to watch it any more.

The journos who are decrying the quality of the show are so way out of its target audience it would be like your grandfather moaning that Gamesmaster isn't as good as it used to be. Pop music and the way it's consumed have changed over the last few years. That's not to say that the BBC's decision is the right one: there's certainly room for a pop music show on TV, as the clever Popworld and the soon-to-be-revived CD:UK will testify, but the BBC can't be arsed working out what teenagers want from a weekly pop show and so will be fulfilling their public service remit to produce music programming with more Jools Holland smugathons and live broadcasts of classical music concertos, driving away for ever the teenagers who just want to turn on, tune in and hum along to the number one single.

The news that TOTP has gone to the great studio in the sky isn't brilliant news for record labels either, as they struggle to find a platform on terrestrial TV for plugging artists that isn't the execrable Strictly Come Dancing or that graveyard of uncool Parkinson.

What's also strange is that it isn't the TOTP brand that's bothering the Beeb. It will live on in spin-off show TOTP2, which shows vintage clips, and its magazine and web site will be retained. So what have they got against good old Top of the Pops itself? While I agree that the show couldn't continue in its current, viewer-toxic form, I reckon it's a shame for the BBC to be holding their hands up and admitting that they've lost their knack when it comes to the simplest of things: bringing pop to an audience that craves it. They seem happy to leave it to MTV. Out of touch, bumbling and puzzled as to what makes teens tick; the BBC's 'Auntie' tag has never seemed so apt.

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